Legal cohabitation is governed by the articles 1475 to 1479 Civil Code.
Legal cohabitation refers to the situation where two people, who have made a declaration at the municipal administration of their municipality of residence, live together.
This declaration offers the cohabitants a certain legal protection.
The legal cohabitation is accessible to all persons who live together in Belgium (either a. heterosexual or homosexual couple).
It is also possible to cohabit legally with a family member (brother, sister, uncle, grand-parent,…).
The Civil Code specifies the rights of the legal cohabitants:
- The protection of the family accommodation : this protection concerns the building that serves as common accommodation and the furniture that is part of it. The decision to sell, give away or constitute a mortgage on the accommodation cannot be taken by one single cohabitant.
- The cohabitants have to contribute to the charges of common life, according to their possibilities. Similar to married couples, cohabitants thus have the obligation to participate in the household needs. The same applies for the costs of maintenance, education and training of the children in the household, whether it concerns common children or not.
- The joint obligation to participate in certain debts. Each time one of the cohabitants contracts a debt indispensable for the needs of the common life or for the children they raise together, the other one will also be held by this debt.
If the understanding between the cohabitants is seriously disturbed, the Justice of the Peace can order urgent and provisional measures.
These measures may concern :
- the occupancy of the common residence
- the goods of the cohabitants and of the common children
- the obligations of the two cohabitants